I’m leaving in an hour to rough out the fall calendar for our youth ministry. We don’t ever plan out a full calendar year for our youth ministry, we do it 3 times a year. And while I have an idea of the tentpole events we do annually we plan in seasons to accommodate for changes, new ideas and increased energy.

Our church loves to change things. Plan to far ahead and you’ll have to change it anyhow. Just embrace it instead of getting frustrated when you have to throw the work away.

New ideas
I’m a new ideas guy, so we plan regularly to be able to drop in new ideas, new strategies and experiments. I love new stuff, so we plan, just not super far in advance.

Increased energy
If you plan too far in advance your team will lose energy for an event or idea. Often times connecting planning with the urgency of needing to immediately start working on pulling something off builds momentum.

Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t know when winter retreat 2015 is yet – we have it booked and reserved and the dates already on the website. I’ve got it marked on the long range calendar but am not going to sweat it right now. I’m going to care about the season ahead in detail and the season beyond that in big picture.

t can see a different personality style planning out way more detail and way further in advance, but I like the fast, fluid and flexible style of planning 3x a year. Think of it like a trip on an airplane:

Fall planning (takeoff)
We typically plan the fall in late May or early June. It is almost done for us, in that we have a Back to School kickoff weekend, the launch of Life Groups, and some traditional series topics and annual events. This season runs September – December.

Winter/Spring planning (cruising altitude)
This planning happens in the fall, probably early November. I like putting these 2 seasons together because they are the ones that require the least customization. We do know the summer camp dates and a few things in the future, but concentrate on January-May. If we were an airplane the engines are cranked, the course is set and we’re flying high.

Summer planning (landing)
This is where the hard work for the rest of the year pays off. We get away for a day early in the Spring to plan the summer and try to have the summer calendar out and our plans public by Easter. This is a crazy time of events, camps and fun. It is always the most random time of the year and some of the most fun. We bring it all in for a landing and then turn off the engines for a week in August before we takeoff again in the fall!

Hope this is helpful when you plan your youth ministry calendar, too!